What’s your excuse?

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Pulling the Foot From the Grave to the Squat Cage

I’m…in disagreement about the…assertion – and the common belief – that diseases such as diabetes and cancer are due to aging and not simple lifestyle factors. These aren’t diseases of aging, they’re diseases of bullshit. We have this deeply ingrained belief, it seems, that aging inherently comes with disease and we’re all just…well…screwed. Watch drug commercials and it would seem that once we hit 55, all that’s left to do is retire, bicker about leftovers with the old ball and chain, and apparently settle in for a few decades of drugs, walkers, pee bags and pain prescriptions. But aging doesn’t have to mean – and shouldn’t mean – wrinkles, broken hips, weakness, and disease. Far from it. There’s no reason you can’t be as lean, strong, and energetic at 50, 60, 70, and even 80 as you were at 25. The key is not a drug, but a healthy, preventive lifestyle.

Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple blog

Using age as an excuse is simply pointing the finger at the calendar rather than accepting the blame that you’ve gone a long time making poor decisions. I’m approaching 40, and this brings a host of observations. No longer do I just have concern for friends and family that are in higher age classes (now aging to me is simply the option to compete in powerlifting meets in a slightly easier age class for when I don’t feel like competing in the Open category). Now my concern is traveling the other direction. Who are you kids and why are you so decrepit?

You, in the skinny tapered jeans and those giant sunglasses that give you that cop-in-a-70s-porno look. Kudos for riding your fixed gear bike around town, but must you be smoking while you’re doing it? Your posture is a chiropractor’s wet dream, since, if you had any money, it could put his kids through culinary school (twice) with all the work it needs.

I’ve been out of college longer then you’ve been out of diapers. What choices are you making that your health should be so poor?

Why the rant? Huzzah, I say, to the trend of sagacity bringing people to better decisions. Although age is often the whipping boy, being blamed for any collection of ills, it is also with the wisdom that age brings that many are discovering the beauties of movement and strength. Within Bodytribe walls hard work is expected, whether you’re 20 or 200, and it is this rare equality that inspires me. We have a unique population where a good majority of our tribe who have a greater number of years under their belts can kick the asses of the younger tribe members. This is almost comical to realize, since most eyes here don’t see age and just see hard work. So this trend wasn’t obvious until I actually considered the ages of our members. And that makes me smile.

What if this role reversal of ability spread like a ripe avocado over the rest of the neighborhood? In my Utopian scenario, better choices are made as a body progresses chronologically. This gives me hope, for maybe this is the inspiration that changes a young mind to make better decisions at some point, after seeing a bunch of older bad-asses living fuller lives.

The old (me) have always bitched about the young (me in 1989). I’m now what I used to laugh at as a kid. “Shut up old man,” the 1989 me would say to the current me. No, not really, I was too polite, but I’d be thinking it. Well the current me could mop the floor with the 1989 me, and I’m planning on the 2029 me being able to do the same with the 2009 me. Nothing wrong with a little long term planning, eh?

Oh, if only I knew that then. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “I’m not young enough to know everything.” Somehow that’s appropriate.




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Showing 7 comments
  • steven mcdermott

    Some of these ideas make me think of older societies and how they worked. Take spartans for example, the older men in society were the badasses not the young. The younger learned what they could from the older. Or at least that’s what 300 taught me. That and ancient history classes. Another culture to look at is japanese society. The older person is almost always the sensei, the young must learn from the master to become the master themselves. Thanks for the insight. You rock.

  • Lisa Daugherty

    I’ve enjoyed your last couple of takes on the idea of age. At 44, I share much of your point of view. I feel like I’m just waking up to choices and these possibilities. I finally get big chunks of it.

    Bodytribe is inviting to me for just the reasons you describe. It does not discriminate; it just wants to know if you can put your back into it, and cheers you on when you do.

    To say I am grateful Bodytribe is here is an understatement. It’s been transformative. I am so grateful. Thank you.

    (And remind me to tell you the story about my 60-something friend who drops out of helicopters to ski down mountains…)

  • Jennifer B

    As always, a beautifully keen observation. In my line of work, I find myself endlessly frustrated with the percentage of Americans who assume vascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and any number of other maladies are a natural progression with age. It’s nice to hear someone else rant a little about how it’s not. 🙂

  • Chris in Arcata

    At 34 years of age I feel in way better shape then when I was 20. Even back then I was active, but not like I am now. In a different way anyhow. So I agree the age card is a joke. Body tribe along with a bunch of other factors I have to thank for how I feel today. Much of it is just a mental game really. Though we have little control over family genes, but sure a healthy lifestyle can certainly delay any onset. I’ve seen some cancer patients do some amazing things based on lifestyle changes, and mental attitude. They blow the doctors prediction right out the door……..Live a healthy life = a lot of positive days a head. Certainly life has it’s twists though.

    PS- I am on a travel break right now, but plan to visit the neighborhood for the GPP workshop. Probably a mountain bike ride in the hills on that Friday as well. Yeah…….Look forward to the visit.

  • Dean

    Great post Chip. I’m a couple months shy of turning 45 and I could totally kick my 30’s Ass! I get to see lots of folks half my age (and even younger) in bathing suits when I teach my Scuba classes and it’s amazing to me that people so young could look so horrible! I remember when I was a youngster in school there was like one obese person in every grade, now it seems to be the norm. What the hell are they doing in those health and phys-ed classes nowadays anyway?

  • Ed Pierini

    No excuses here from a 54 year young Bodytriber with belly button dust that is older than the average age of all other Bodytribers.

    Truth be told, if you say to yourself that you are fitter now than you were yesteryear it is because you were screwing around yesteryear. The simple truth of the matter is that if everything is constant but age, in general your fitness performance will not be what it is at age decades 60 or 50 to what it was at age decades 40 or 30.

    If you don’t believe me, just wait, but in until then do keep your pedal to the metal!

  • Chris - fitnessfail.com

    Excellent post. I’m younger than a lot of you guys, but I’m supposed to be out of my “athletic prime” at 30.

    I think I feel and look better than I have at any other point in my life though, not to mention that my athletic performance is better than it ever has been.

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